Getting started: Missing branches

Growing up, I knew my paternal grandmother had a family history file going back to the Mayflower. I knew my maternal grandfather came from Cajun stock, so there were deep roots in Louisiana.  The other two quarters of my family tree, though, had branches that no one in my immediate family knew much about. Wanting to solve those mysteries was what got me started on my own research. I’ve made some progress, which I’ll talk about in future posts, but there’s still a lot unknown.

My paternal grandfather’s father was one of thirteen children. Three died in infancy, which left ten living children when their father died in 1909 and their mother followed in 1910. The youngest was 2 when they were orphaned; the oldest was 22. I never heard my grandfather talk about aunts or uncles or cousins, never knew anyone else on that side of the family – but with that many siblings in his father’s family, I knew he had to have relatives out there. I wanted to know more about what happened to those children after the parents died.

My maternal grandmother’s parents were divorced when she was young, and she was estranged from her father after he remarried. I knew a little bit about her mother’s family, but on her father’s side all I had was a name…and a common last name, at that. I had no idea when I started how I would be able to track down those ancestors.

I’ve been at this off and on for almost a decade now. There have been surprises along the way. I’ve found a genuine genealogical controversy – a dispute over my ancestor’s parentage that has been written up and will probably never be completely solved. There’s always something new to research.

In future posts, I’ll talk about some of the discoveries I’ve made and some of the mysteries I’m still working on. I hope to make connections in the online genealogy community, to have a place to share the exciting and frustrating moments of research, and to document the narrative side of my work. Looking forward to it!

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